What do you use VPNs for? If you use it to keep your browsing habits private, you should keep your eyes on Microsoft Edge, as the Redmond tech giant is planning to implement a free VPN within the browser that will help you protect your data.
Microsoft Edge’s New Built-In VPN
Neowin spotted an interesting page on Microsoft Support that goes into detail about the “Microsoft Edge Secure Network.” Fortunately, this webpage gives us more than enough information as to how this network will work.
The Microsoft Edge Secure Network is a virtual private network (VPN) built directly into the browser. Activating the Secure Network is easy; just flip a switch and you’re browsing privately. Not only that but all the data is handled by Cloudflare, which has gained a huge reputation online for helping keep businesses and individuals alike safe from online threats.
Cloudflare does collect “a limited amount of diagnostic and support data” as part of the service, but it promises that it will delete this data after 25 hours. Other than that, it works like every other VPN; it will hide your location and encrypts the traffic you send through Microsoft Edge.
There are some limitations to this feature. For one, it doesn’t seem as if you can select the country you want to connect from; you just hit a button and Edge handles the rest. Also, you can only browse 1GB a month using Secure Network before you need to wait for the data cap to reset.
Given how Microsoft Edge Secure Network is still in testing, it’s uncertain if these limitations will persist in the release version. We also don’t know if Microsoft plans to ask for payment for more advanced features or a higher data cap.
A Potential Move Away From Third-Party VPNs
Adding a free, built-in VPN to Edge is pretty huge. Not only does this allow people to tap into the power of a private network with very little technical knowledge, but public PCs that run Windows will also have a VPN on them by default without any additional third-party downloads.
So, is this the end for third-party VPNs? Barely. The lack of a country selector makes this feature less-than-ideal for skirting around region blocks. And the 1GB data restriction will quickly evaporate if you use the service to stream TV shows or movies that aren’t in your country. As such, dedicated VPNs still win on this front.
But for casual browsing, Edge’s new VPN service is fantastic. And some people who currently pay for their privacy may choose to hop over to Edge to take advantage of its free, easy-to-use VPN service. And if Microsoft continues to expand this service, it may slowly erode the control that third-party solutions have over the market.
Secure Browsing Habits, Made Easy
While you won’t be using Microsoft Edge’s free VPN to watch Netflix anytime soon, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for internet browsing privacy. And given this is still early days, who knows what else Microsoft has planned for its service?